GHD: Leading Hydrogen Solutions for Global Renewable Energy

Hydrogen is key to a net zero future, GHD's Jason Fonti said
Jason Fonti, Global Leader, Origination at GHD, tells Energy Digital why hydrogen is key to the future of sustainable energy solutions

Hydrogen is a big talking point across the energy landscape worldwide as it can be key in achieving net zero. A clean alternative to methane, it's the most abundant chemical element and can be used to power vehicles, generate electricity, power industry and heat homes and businesses.

In turn, hydrogen makes a significant difference to carbon emission output and is critical to achieving net zero. It's a particularly big topic of discussion in the US right now following the EPA’s decision to remove it from its recent guidance on renewable energy alternatives.

Jason Fonti is Global Leader, Origination at GHD, one of the world’s leading engineering, architecture and environmental consulting companies committed to addressing the world’s biggest challenges in the areas of water, energy and communities.

His role sees him work within the advisory section of the business, coming up with market-led opportunities that GHD then co-develop or present to clients with the idea of trying to accelerate investment in large-scale infrastructure with a predominant focus on the energy transition.

In an exclusive sit down with Energy Digital, Jason sheds light on GHD’s role in the hydrogen space and emphasises the importance of electrification in the production of green hydrogen, as well as the need for increased demand and market activation. 

Jason Fonti, Global Leader, Origination at GHD

GHD’s contribution to the hydrogen space

“We've been very active in the hydrogen space,” Jason says. This includes idea origination, pitching concepts to clients, developing business cases, design and environmental approvals, detailed design and project execution. He also highlights GHD’s new businesses, launched in Australia, called DPS Delivery Phase, where GHD helps clients execute projects once they get beyond FID.

GHD’s specialty aligns with the global push for renewable energy alternatives, with the brand staying ahead of the curve to ensure GHD itself and its clients put their best foot forward in the context of the energy transition.

“Hydrogen is going to be part of the mix,” he adds. “I think it goes hand in hand. I think, clearly, electrification is at the front end of everything, but you can't make green hydrogen without electrification

“But the ‘lagger’ in all of this is demand. Demand has definitely not shifted materially over the last five years or so. There needs to be a lot more activation in that part of the market. We're sort of stuck in a bit of a standstill until we get some economic conditions to change.”

To help motion the wheels of positive change, GHD, Jason says, focuses on clients who operate globally to drive the hydrogen market forward. 

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The future of hydrogen with GHD’s Jason Fonti

Jason highlights the need for a global supply chain to reach a tipping point for accelerated growth.

“These are global supply chains we’re talking about and they need to get to a certain tipping point before we see things accelerate quite quickly,” Jason continues. “Domestic markets are probably a lot easier to deal with, but again, that's not what's going to shift the needle with hydrogen.”

He draws attention to how staying close to clients, understanding what they're seeing on the ground and being acutely aware of the impact of policy and politics, is vital to mobilising hydrogen as a reliable, clean and attainable energy source. 

“Close to half of the world is going through an election this year,” Jason goes on. “This is a very unique period for us, and keeping a firm eye on policy directions and the way things are going is going to be key to this as well.”

Elsewhere, GHD's ventures arm invests in startups and emerging technologies to support advancements in the energy transition, including hydrogen. But the success and future of this source, Jason emphasises, cannot be secured without leveraging existing infrastructure and supply chains to aid the transition. This also follows Australia's recent gas policy, where gas is part of the transition. 

Jason says: “We need some sort of pathway that transitions without putting too much pressure on customers — in particular, low income — who are feeling a lot of the pain with the energy pricing right now.”

Highlighting that access to hydrogen is restricted by cost as well as storage and implementation, Jason concludes that a fresh perspective will also be key in making the future of hydrogen as an energy solution a reality.

“We need to think differently around how we do things,” he explains. “You'll see a lot around transmission lines in particular, which are going to be fundamental to all of this renewable generation, but it takes up a huge footprint from a land perspective.

“Offshore wind is not the silver bullet, either. There's a lot of moving parts and challenges in this space. But if you stood back and saw how we've progressed in the last 10 years, I think you'll find there's a lot of things that have happened.”

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